Archive for December, 2009

December 28, 2009

Wow what a failure!

1832: Failed in business — bankruptcy
1832: Defeated for legislature
1834: Failed in business — bankruptcy
1835: Fiancee died
1836: Nervous breakdown
1838: Defeated in election
1843: Defeated for U.S. Congress
1848: Defeated for U.S. Congress
1855: Defeated for U.S. Senate
1856: Defeated for Vice President
1858: Defeated for U.S. Senate
1860: Elected President of the United States of America

I’m copying this from Gary Keller’s “Millionaire Real Estate Agent.” The person referred to is Abraham Lincoln.

“The next time you try something, bear in mind that history has made it very clear that you will probably have to fail a few times before you get it right.” –Gary Keller

I remember playing poker with my friends in college. My friend Dustin used to say this jokingly, “I love to lose!” And I shared his sentiment… no really. I do love losing. Well. Let me qualify. In poker — the only way to get better is by losing, as long as you learn something from it — like “oh maybe I shouldn’t bluff Steve anymore because he calls everything.” Often I would throw in that last call on the river, pretty sure I was going to lose the entire hand, just to see if my read was right/wrong on the person.

Of course, losing the little battles is just a means to an end, of long-term winning… but you get the point. And sometimes it would just make me feel better to pretend that I loved losing.

December 27, 2009

“Just Show Up” for 2010

A recent blog post by Tom Barrack inspired me to write this post. He quotes Woody Allen,  “80% of success is showing up,” and also gives credit to his son’s water polo coach for instilling the lesson of “just show up.” I’m giving Mr. Barrack credit for this lesson today. And after you read my blog, YOU’RE gonna give me credit for putting this in your brain.

Also — Kevin Maggiacomo (@Maggiacomo), CEO of SVN, (it’s okay I’m still not sure if I pronounce his name correctly either) recently tweeted about this article by Duke Long, Five Minutes in the Mind of a Commercial Real Estate Broker — which is a great read if you have ADD and wanted a better insight into our industry. I’m one of the “young blood” that Mr. Long refers to in his article, just in the biz for a few years, still navigating my way through.

I’ve decided that my New Year’s resolution is going to be a mix of Woody Allen’s/Mr. Barrack’s “just show up” and Nike’s “just do it.”

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010

As an aside, this picture appears funny, at first. But pictures are really worth a thousand words. I found this somewhere on the internet googling “just do it,” but this exactly describes my situation, and many of my colleagues as well. Go big or go broke, as they say. It’s either going to be really awesome, or, not so awesome. Over the last few years, I’ve seen a ton of my very close friends and coworkers get out of the business, slamming on the brakes well before they hit the ramp. Can’t really blame them. From my personal experience, commercial real estate has, at best, a 90% attrition rate. Meaning, for all the brokers I’ve met since I’ve got into the biz, I only now still see about one-in-ten still active. But, my shark  mentality forces me to say, get the hell outta here, just means less competition for me. Every day I show up, I’m reminded that I have one less competitor.

My first year in the business was tough (now that I think about it, they all were/are, progressively tougher, and 2010 will probably not be exempt from the trend). 2006. Market was falling. Friends/family urging me to do something else. To stay on the path of law school. I hated reading, didn’t think I would enjoy lawschool. Wanted to sell. Figured real estate was the most expensive thing I could sell. I was right. But boy was I in for a ride. A ride that I’m still on.

I had no idea what a listing was or what an escrow was. If you put escrow on a multiple choice test I probably would have chosen C) A type of bird. And I’m the type of guy that aces multiple choice tests. That’s how lost I was when I started. I started at a small boutique firm with limited resources. My broker didn’t give me much training but told me to just pick up the phone, gave me the apartment directory (a big yellow phone book that is purposely oversized with tiny print so it’s impossible to copy) and told me to “just get a meeting.”

I’m like, “uhh, what do I say.” He’s like, “just get a meeting.” Hmmm okay. And that’s how my career started. And I apologize to any of my former/current juniors, but that’s probably why I have such an asshole mentality. I actually think I’m a really good mentor, because I’m not so far removed from being a super-newbie myself. But I’ll ride you hard knowing that you’ll appreciate it in the future.

Anyhoo. After 3 month’s of calling with not much results, no listings, and definitely no escrow’s (whatever that strange bird was) — I was almost burnt out and ready to quit. It’s funny, because anyone who mentions “burn out” to me  now had better be reminiscing on at least 12 month’s of zero results — then I might lend an ear to your sob story. At least one piece of technology the little brokerage had was the ability to track the number of calls we were making. I was probably averaging about 200/week when the standard in our industry is 300 calls per week to be shooting Par.

My broker told me. “Make 300 call per week. If you do that, I promise you’ll make it.” I was like, “psssh, okayyyyy.” I decided I WOULD make the 300 calls, just to spite him. Just to prove him wrong. Well. He was right. It was almost like it didn’t matter what I said, or how good I was getting a meeting. Purely SHOWING UP and JUST DOING IT was the formula for success.

This week I started reading the book “The Tipping Point” — which makes a lot of sense now in hindsight. In 2006, I was muddling around, not shooting par, making like 200 calls per week. Then all of a sudden, when I consistently made 300/calls per week, activity begot more activity, and 300 was the magic number, the tipping point, at which things started to happen.

When we used to have a bunch of brokers over here at our office and competition was fun, and the market had not got so depressing yet, I think I set the record and make over 750 calls one week, sometime in 2008.

I will have to admit that my gangsterness has waned a bit this year. My calls at certain points dipped far below my 300 per week par. I referenced Duke Long’s Five Minutes in the Mind of a Commercial Real Estate Broker earlier because I’d like to amend it a bit with my own experience for 2009.

… …  … …

If you’re not a super veteran in the commercial real estate biz still able to eck out a 7-fig income in this market — then you’re just like me, grinding your way to your next deal, happy to have survived 2009, wondering if you’ll survive 2010. I’ve now accepted that depression will occur about once a quarter.

But I know that as long as I “just show up” and “just do it” — it’s gonna be gravy. I just have to figure out what “it” is for 2010.


December 16, 2009

Accounting is Awesome

So it was hard enough to make the money, now I have to figure out how to count it, and categorize how to spend it, and figure out why my quickbooks online pro is not reconciling correctly with my checking accounts. I give up on life.

December 14, 2009

First Time on Market! Ooh La La…

It’s annoying to see “First Time on Market in 20 Years!” on real estate listings — like that’s really a selling point. Is that supposed to make me wanna buy it more? Or over pay you by over half a million dollars? That could very well mean that you’ve had it on the market for twenty years and couldn’t sell it, and you’re trying again, and again, and again. The only thing that would work for is a 20-year-old virgin.

I saw this apartment in Palms just pop up for sale… what the hell here’s the address: 10594 National, Los Angeles, CA 90034

You know what — here’s the ad and a pic.

Price: $1.8m, 8 Units
Actual Value: $1.2m (in my expert opinion since I’m the #1 agent in Palms)

“Frist time on market in 20 yrs. 2 buildings each 4 units with court yard, none of the units have a common wall, very quiet!! Convienent for shopping, close to UCLA, & Santa Monica College. Laundry on site. Easy Freeway access. Owner will carry @ 5% Int. rate with 20% down”

*I will say that the financing terms are attractive. But that’s like buying a Honda Civic for $100,000 and getting 0% interest for 5 years. If that sounds attractive to you, go buy the building.

December 13, 2009

Tiger Woods Obsession, etc.

I’ve always been more of a practical type. Although — yes, I do get star struck a little bit. More recently, I was standing behind Nicole Kidman at Starbucks. I wasn’t sure if it was her or not, I could only see her from a 45 degree angle. She was with her girlfriend, both talking in Australian accents, further confirming my hunch. She was also the exact same height as me. I’m 5′ 10″ — but I for some reason always thought she was 6′ feet tall. But that’s probably because when she was with Tom Cruise she just looked gigantic.

Anyhoo. I was hoping that when she ordered her coffee the cashier would have asked her name. Nope. But I did see the cashier stare at her unusually long. When it was my turn I asked the cashier, “was that Nicole Kidman?” Cashier goes: “hmmm I think so it does kinda look like her.”

So I was determined to get a picture with her on my blackberry instead of pulling an annoying paparazzi snapshot. I felt special because no one else at Starbucks seemed to notice her. Oh yea, she looked like Mary Poppins — or actually, she was dressed like a horse jockey — had her hair tucked into her hat, manly looking jacket. But probably trying to go incognito. I must mention she had really nice skin.

So I got my coffee and was planning my maneuver. I’m sure given a little bit more time I could have come up with something a little better than “Hi are you Nicole Kidman?” But yes, friends, that’s what I said. Nicole didn’t look up, her friend looked a bit annoyed and said “Ummmm, we’re just trying to have coffee” [bitch look]

And I left. Feeling a little stupid. And in hindsight, I should have just done the paparazzi thing. I really just wanted to prove to my friends it was her. Now nobody believes me.

My roommate is extremely the un-starstruck type. We kind of share that but I’d still probably run outside if you told me Ryan Seacrest was walking down the street. But just so I could beat him up. Kidding. Not really.

So I was thinking about why people (even me) get starstruck — as I had to explain it to my roommate.

The best answer I can come up with is — the same reason I would get excited if I saw Spiderman walking down the street. No, not like a fake costume Spiderman — but imagine the real webcrawling city slinging Spiderman, in real life. Spiderman is a comic book character, I only see him in comic books and movies.

Movie stars are the same. They’re pretty much fake people. Could be cartoons for all I know, really real looking cartoons. Since I’ve never met them, they’re just as real to me as comic book characters.

Seeing these people in real life, shopping at Whole Foods or sipping coffee at Starbucks, to me at least, is as exciting as seeing Spiderman in real life. It’s like, holy crap, you really exist, and you’re just doing something normal. I’m sure Spiderman would have let me take a picture with him.

I realize these are just normal people with jobs, just like I have. Except their job is a lot better and they make 100 times more money than I do.

But part of their job, and part of the reason they make so much money, is because people like us pay to watch their stuff. They’re good at what they do so their skills are in high demand, and they themselves, are in high demand, popular. They shouldn’t expect to go out in public and not have to sign a couple autographs. To pull the high and mighty “psssh I’m just having coffee get outta my face” (even though it was her friend) is understandable, but at the same time, not understandable.

If part of the reason I was getting paid — was because of my popularity (which sounds pretty awesome now that I mention it) — and I wanted to have coffee with a buddy in privacy — I would not go to a Starbucks at Wilshire/26th Street in the most busy part of Santa Monica. That’s all I’m saying. I’d pay some guy to go to Starbucks and bring it to me. Yes.

Nicole — that last thing I remember you in was that movie where you did some weird sexual stuff with your ex-husband that dumped you for a younger skinny girl. Yea, I said it. I’m mad that you snubbed me. And you’re not even that popular, I almost didn’t even recognize you.

And this post has nothing to do with Tiger. I’m not really sure what to say about that yet. Except *high five*. KIDDING KIDDING KIDDING!!!!!! don’t kill me.

December 11, 2009

Social Networking is Dumb

Go play with your friends. I’m going to make sure my son/daughter (when I have one) at least has 5 legit friends before he/she is ever allowed a facebook/twitter or whatever comes up in the future.

“Hey, let’s make a site that gets a million users and allows people to interact online!”

Okay, been there, done that, get over it. We are encouraging people to spend 100% of their lives online. A new site pops up every day. I’m guilty of this too. I’m not even sure which platform to communicate with my friends anymore. I often find myself chatting with the same person via gmail, facebook, and BBM, at the SAME TIME.

Also — what does SUSTAINABLE mean? there’s this store in Brentwood that sells sustainable furniture. Screw that. All it means is expensive to me. Everything disintegrates into the Earth eventually. Everything came from the Earth, and goes back to the Earth, period.

So I was thinking about the term “Social Networking.” What does it really mean. Social. and. Network-ing.

And it pretty much means hanging out with your friends and meeting their friends. It doesn’t mean sit on your ass and play with your mouse.

End of rant. Peace. Enjoy Friday.